Powerball Winner From New Hampshire Wins Anonymity Battle

A judge has ruled that the New Hampshire woman who won $559.7 million on Powerball in January should be allowed to keep her identity a secret. Lottery officials had warned that her name would have to be released in accordance with the state’s laws on full disclosure, but the court said it was ‘not a difficult decision’ to grant her anonymity.

Powerball Winner From New Hampshire Wins Anonymity Battle

New Hampshire’s Stance on Publicity

There are only a few states - Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina - which let Powerball winners stay anonymous. Most other places insist on publicity, but there are some jurisdictions - such as New Hampshire and Texas - which allow winners to claim money through a blind trust or limited liability company.

The issue for the woman from New Hampshire - who won the Powerball jackpot on Saturday 6th January - was that she signed the back of her ticket. Lottery officials argued that they would have no choice but to reveal her identity if someone made a request for information - a likely scenario after such a big win - and that any attempt to remove her signature would invalidate her ticket.

Court Decision

The winner only learned that she could have set up a trust after seeking advice from an attorney and subsequently went to court to try and stay private. As the case continued, the judge allowed her to receive her money last week and has now said she can stay anonymous so that her safety is not put at risk.

Citing previous lottery winners who had been persistently harassed and one who had even received a bomb threat, judge Charles Temple said it was fair for her to request anonymity. He wrote: “The Court therefore has no difficulty finding that [the woman] would also be subject to similar solicitation and harassment if her identity were disclosed.”

The judge has ruled that the winner’s home town can be made public, saying it was ‘highly unlikely’ that releasing such information could lead to her identity being exposed. The woman bought her ticket at Reeds Ferry Market on Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack, about 25 miles from Concord, and it is reported that Merrimack is her home town.

What Next?

The winner’s lawyer, William Shaheen, said last week that she planned to give up to $50 million to charitable causes over the course of her life. The court’s decision could also have implications for future lottery winners who wish to stay private, particularly in those states such as New Hampshire where trust funds are an option.

The Powerball jackpot, meanwhile, is up to $420 million ahead of Wednesday night’s drawing, having not been won since the lady from New Hampshire matched all the numbers more than two months ago.

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Article Last Modified: Tuesday, 13 March 2018 10:08:34+00:00
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